Recently I was struck by how people referred to Landon Donovan after he announced that he'll retire at the end of the MLS season. Barely anyone said "Landon Donovan" or even "Donovan." It was simply "Landon."
It made me think: Why don't we have more nicknames for players? I mean formal nicknames. In general, people here in the USA and Canada think nicknames or single names are something only in Brazil (e.g., Juninho) or Mexico (e.g. Cubo). But it doesn't have to be. Maybe we should embrace nicknames and single names here, too. Put them on jerseys. Use them on TV. It would, at the least, acknowledge the personal connection that the supporters feel with their favorite players.
Obviously, performance is a factor when it comes to nicknames. You've gotta walk the walk if you're gonna talk the talk. But MLS already has several (non-Brazilian/Mexican) players largely known by their nicknames or first names. Here are seven of my favorites:
Dax. Nine years into his career, and some people still aren't sure if the New York Red Bulls midfielder's last name is McCarty or McCarthy. (It's the former, by the way.)
Shalrie. The New England Revolution living legend's unique first name has always held more sway than his family name.
Omar. The Galaxy defender's presence and World Cup bonafides make his last name superfluous.
DeRo. Has anyone in casual conversation called the Toronto FC veteran "Dwayne De Rosario" since 2001?
Lenny. The entertaining San Jose forward doesn't quite seem like a Steven. Or a Steve. No, Lenny definitely fits.
Tesho. It hasn't caught on as a one-namer yet, but if the FC Dallas rookie keeps scoring, it will.
Which MLS players are you on a first-name basis with? Let us know in the comments.